When I discovered that our interest in Aston Villa striker Keinan Davis had been confirmed, I couldn’t help but feel alarmed.
In 40 Championship appearances across three seasons, the 21-year-old English international had bagged a meagre two goals.
Both of these goals came during his breakthrough season under Steve Bruce, and while a tally you can count on one hand may seem problematic, there is more than meets the eye with Keinan Davis.
When you consider that Preston North End score goals from absolutely everywhere, is the mythical “20+ goal a season striker” really that necessary?
Last season, we finished 7th in terms of goals scored per match with an average of 1.5. Impressive stuff which proves that scoring goals isn’t our issue, providing that we can keep hold of certain players.
Combined, Moult, Stockley and Maguire, scored just 11 goals last season, the same amount midfielder Alan Browne bagged on his own.
I mean, of course it would be ideal to have that Billy Sharp-esque talisman, but in our current system, it is by no means crucial.
And while Keinan Davis is no natural goalscorer, I seriously think he has plenty to offer an Alex Neil side.
1 – Cost
Davis would be cheap. Aston Villa are desperate for the youngster to get some minutes under his belt, and with their own finances looking pretty, they can afford to loan Davis out while still paying a large chunk of his wage bill.
And this is one of the reasons why I would be tempted to opt for Davis over Hugill. While Hugill would cost PNE £1m just for a season-long loan deal, Davis would be a much lower financial risk.
2- Perfect Fit
Speaking of Hugill, Davis is actually rather similar and this is why he would be the perfect fit for Alex Neil’s attacking system.
While he doesn’t have a killer instinct in front of goal, Davis likes to act as a playmaker, feeding his teammates and causing the opposition’s defence the sort of problems that simply cannot be understood through numbers.
As a player, Davis isn’t afraid to drop deep if it means linking play and getting onto the ball. Through his deep play he naturally drags defenders out of position, allowing the attacking midfielders to overlap and exploit any gaps created.
In truth – Davis’ job isn’t just to tuck the ball away for himself, he’d much rather put it on a plate for others and as a striker, this selflessness can often mean you’re overlooked.
Obviously a few goals wouldn’t harm his reputation, but these will come with age.
3- He’s Quick
Cast your minds back to November 2017 as Preston took on Aston Villa under the floodlights of Deepdale
Keinan Davis led the line for Aston Villa that night and did a superb job, using both his pace and mobility to cause mayhem.
In fact, he should’ve scored not once but twice and it is no wonder that Alex Neil has enquired about the youngster after witnessing such an eye-catching performance.
With the scoreline level, Davis burst up the pitch and into the box, before seeing his effort tipped just wide by Maxwell.
His second opportunity came tantalisingly close too, as Chris Maxwell clawed his powerful header away from goal.
And with his side 1-0 up, Davis made a blistering defence splitting run that allowed Onomah to put through Snodgrass who had the simplest of finishes to win the game.
People will remember the game for the smart Snodgrass finish, forgetting that it wouldn’t have been possible without the quick, instinctive movement of Davis.
4- He’s a Handful
Being the sad bastard that I am, I found myself trawling through some old posts on an Aston Villa fan forum and one of the key things Villa fans highlighted was Davis’ strength.
With one Villan stating: “He appears to have almost all of the attributes, he’s fast, he’s strong, his hold up play is good but he also has good close control and some skills, fantastic play for the goal.”
Another fan described him as “a baby giraffe with magnetic feet” – I mean, I guess that’s a compliment?
But when I read “he reminds me of a young Heskey”, I had to laugh.
Whether he’s a baby giraffe or in fact a much younger Heskey, all these comments show that Keinan Davis is a real handful for defences.
After being rejected by the Stevenage Academy, Davis responded with hardwork and determination.
Dropping as low as the ‘Southern League Premier Division Central’ and Biggleswade Town FC, Davis quickly made a name for himself and just 5 months after leaving Stevenage, the 17-year-old was snapped up into the Aston Villa youth set-up.
And before he knew it, Davis, to the surprise of both himself and the fans, was appearing for one of the biggest clubs in England as the lone striker. Now that’s where hardwork can take you.
Davis epitomises hardwork and if he did join Preston on loan, we would be graced with a determined young lad desperate to succeed in the Championship.
As always, let me know your thoughts.
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